For Part I of What’s the Buzz, click here.
In the last article, I took a look at the buzz surrounding a certain movie and how that can both have positive and negative effects. Now that it’s the weekend after, audiences have responded to the buzz surrounding Cloverfield, giving it a record breaking weekend at the box office despite lukewarm reviews. In other words, mission accomplished.
But the hype surrounding a certain film also has huge effects during award season. In fact, in many cases, it is believed to even pick winners for the industry’s most prestigious prize, the Academy Award.
Every award season, the front runners in certain categories is ever changing, partially due to the buzz surrounding the film. While performance caliber is the main factor, studios push to hype their films, attempting to give them and their stars the edge needed to secure a win. It was less than ten years ago that Miramax was criticized for their Oscar campaign for Chocolat. A mediocre film at best, the film scored 5 Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. Many in the industry wondered how Miramax was able to lead this film toward Oscar glory. The answer, of course, is that by building a media frenzy around the film, the film’s own buzz begin to sky rocket, with many thinking this was a worthy film to nominate for Best Picture. Because all Academy members can vote for Best Picture, Chocolat probably got its nod by voters who had not seen the film but heard all the hype. In other words, Miramax hyped the film so that if it was not nominated, the word “snub” would have been their battle cry.
But that was 7 years ago. These days, it seems buzz has less of an effect on a film’s win than on the actors or actresses who star. (But that is not to say the hype surrounding a film does not increase its chances of winning.) Just last year, Eddie Murphy was the front runner for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dreamgirls. In fact, Murphy’s win was going to be the consolation prize for the overall snub Dreamgirls felt, having not received a Best Picture nomination. All signs were in favor of a Murphy win. . .and then Norbit was released. The movie turned off a lot of voters to Murphy who then probably favored another nominee. Suddenly, Murphy’s buzz began to fade and his lock for the win was questionable. While its debatable what effect Norbit had on Murphy’s chances, his stock did fall right around the time the movie was released. In the end, the Oscar went to Alan Arkin.
So, does award season hype pick winners? Well, yes and no. On one hand, there are very deserving performances and films that ride their acclaim and buzz to wins in the industry. But on the other hand, their respective wins are partly due to the buzz that encompasses them since without it, these films might fall by the wayside. Would There Will Be Blood be as successful if it were not for the buzz and attentions surrounding Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance? Would people even care if attention was brought to these films?
These are unanswerable questions since buzz, whether small or large, positive or negative, isn’t going anywhere. With studios eager to promote their prestigious films, as well as those that earn them a few bucks, the next step for creating the right amount of hype is seeing how Cloverfield can score a Best Picture nomination for 2009.